The theory and practice of external infrared reflection absorption spectrometry (IRRAS) as applied to monomolecular films at the air-water interface are reviewed. The observed IR frequencies for films of amphiphilic species provide information about the conformational states of the hydrocarbon chains and the hydrogen bonding and ionization states of the polar head groups, under conditions of controlled surface pressure. Determination of molecular orientation is also feasible and requires detailed consideration of the reflection-absorption properties of the three­ phase (air-monolayer-water) system. Current theoretical approaches are described.

Applications of IRRAS to the study of single- and double-chain amphiphiles and proteins are reviewed, and initial excursions into biochemistry (interfacial enzyme catalysis) and physiology (pulmonary surfactant function) are reported.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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